Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has announced the temporary suspension of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine rollout in South Africa.
This follows the decision by the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) to pause the vaccine rollout after blood clots were discovered in six female recipients.
“We have noted the decision taken by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States of America to advise the temporary suspension of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine rollout.
“This has occurred due to reports of 6 females who developed unusual blood clots with low platelects. These incidents occurred between 6 and 13 days after vaccination in women between the ages of 18 and 48 years,” Mkhize said in a statement on Tuesday.
Statement by the Minister of Health, Dr Zwelini Mkhize, on the FDA’s Temporary Suspension of Johnson and Johnson vaccine rollout in the United States. pic.twitter.com/DTnUK0a2li
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) April 13, 2021
South Africa has already administered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to almost 300 000 healthcare workers under the Sisonke Protocol and more doses are en route for use in the mass vaccination drive.
But Mkhize said the country has had no reports of clots after vaccination so far.
“In South Africa, we have not had any reports of clots that have formed after vaccination, and this is after having inoculated 289 787 healthcare workers under the Sisonke Protocol,” said Mkhize.
The minister said he has since held consultations with local scientists, who advised that “we cannot take the decision made by the FDA lightly”.
He said: “Based on their advice, we have determined to voluntarily suspend our rollout until the causal relationship between the development of clots and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is sufficiently interrogated.”
Additional 10 million doses
Mkhize called for calm and patience “as we ensure that we continue to be properly guided by science to ensure the safety of our people”.
The minister also announced that an additional 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been secured.
“I am happy to announce that we have successfully negotiated for another 10 million doses from Pfizer, and these, we expect just under 2 million to be delivered in May,” Mkhize said.
This brings the total of secured Pfizer vaccines to 30 million, he said.
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday it would delay rollout of its vaccine in Europe after US authorities moved to suspend use of the shot due to health concerns, according to a report by AFP.
“We have made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe,” J&J said, adding that it was reviewing the cases with European health authorities.
PICTURE: Cape Town etc gallery